Sunday, April 29, 2007


Man, how lame. Safire this week just quotes letters speculating on the history of an idiom or two. Don't even bother if the print issue is sitting in front of you. (He does cite the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, so our Alert Reader — who's earned caps by now — wins.)

Much more worth your time is Jan Freeman's most recent blog post, here, playing with Gender Genie. I too wonder what samples they drew on. The most recent post on this blog (by our contributor Joe) comes out clearly masculine, but my own posts are mixed. Some stuff that probably reads like male prose to a human (like some earlier Safire Watch posts that I thought had an edge to them) get rated as feminine, to my surprise. The last post on Everett counts as the most masculine of the ones I checked.

You have to figure this is going to be very rough and marginally accurate. And looking at how words/forms like are, she, a, the are flagged (run a text through and you'll see), you end up figuring, yup, this is a messy process. It's worth keeping an eye on, though, as they sharpen this tool.


The Ridger, FCD said...

Check out heads up the blog today - it starts:

How do you get to and from work if your assignment is to edit Bill Safire? I mean, do you wear Groucho glasses and kind of sneak from doorway to doorway all the way to Times Square? And when people ask what you do at work, do you tell 'em you steal coins from blind guys' cups? It's got to be tough any week, but especially when he's just making stuff up and tossing it out there as if folks were supposed to believe it.

Mr. Verb said...

Wow, there is somebody with the patience of Job ... . Yesterday morning, I honestly TRIED to start working out what was bad, wrong, ugly, dumb in that column, but I kept getting this tightness in my chest that the tequila shots and various opiates just weren't able to take the edge off of.

Yeah, stealing coins from blind guys' cups would be honorable by comparison. But I wonder how much editing they really do with Wild Bill, as the title of the post suggests.

And thanks for the tip. I didn't even know that blog.